Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 19, 2015 - Caleta Lobos

** Note:  we are leaving La Paz today, April 21rst, for up to two weeks exploring.  We do not expect to have internet access during this time.  If we do it will be a treat!  We will return to La Paz no later than May 8th.**

Our first experiences with the Sea of Cortez have been exciting and we yearn for more.  We arrived late last year and had decided to head directly to the mainland right after Christmas.  It was a great decision and we thoroughly enjoyed the mainland coast, but we came down to Mexico to explore the Sea of Cortez, and we can't wait to get started!  We had some insurance issues to resolve so we ended up needing to stay in La Paz a bit longer than we had intended, which has delayed our ventures into the "Sea".  It is the weekend and we need to be in La Paz on Monday for word back from businesses in the great USA.  We decided to venture not too far for the weekend to explore something new, and to get a break from the hustle and bustle of La Paz.

We first went to San Gabriel on Espiritu Santu island, which is a marine park/sanctuary (national protected area).  Arriving in the afternoon, we never went to shore. We had great plans to get out right after breakfast the next morning.  Plans change and our night was what you could say; horrible, horrible, horrible.  The winds kicked up at 1:30am and made for a sleepless night.  We were far from the other 4 boats in the bay and not concerned about hitting land, going aground or such, but the fetch allowed the waves to grow to the size that we hobby-horsed all night and our swim step pounded on the water.  There is no way to sleep through that noise and feeling which shutters and shakes the whole boat no matter where you are.  At 3:30am one vessel in the bay called another on the VHF radio.  Steve and I were both awake and heard the conversation between the boats.  One boat was debating pulling their anchor as they had endured enough of this torture.  They had also been up since 1:30 and had to go out on deck to lash down some items that were shifting around in the uneasy motion.  The other boat had decided to wait it out until sunrise and then they were leaving and going back to La Paz.  They too had been awake for hours.  Morning came with conditions seeming to steadily get worse.  We soon brought the anchor up and headed back for La Paz by 9am or so.  We were about 15 minutes behind one of those two boats that chatted on the radio, and the other was just a few miles behind us, leaving only two boats in the bay.  We don't know if they stayed or not.  We were there only one afternoon and night, took no pictures, and missed a beautiful sand beach and some hiking.  It was sort of a letdown for us and depressing.  These southwest winds are mentioned in our guidebooks. The coromuel winds occur most commonly in spring and summer, and the books mention which bays are open to those winds but we hoped they would not occur every night.  We have been in this area for several weeks now and there have only been a few calm evenings (our previous night in La Paz being one of them.  We are 100% for encountering strong winds overnight in the 20 or so miles we have explored outside of La Paz.  This is not too encouraging, but we have read that these winds only reach about 40 miles north of La Paz.  We sure hope so as we are in need of a decent night's sleep!  Unfortunately, the morning weather forecaster on the VHF net does not attempt to predict these winds, and we don't yet know how to predict them ourselves. So for now we are just taking our chances and will not be anchoring overnight in bays that are open to the wind driven waves, at least within 40 miles of La Paz where these winds are felt.

Instead of going back to La Paz, which we needed to do on Monday anyway, we decided to stop at another anchorage on our way.  As we got closer the wind and waves were calming down.  We knew from the direction of the coromuel winds that this bay should be pretty calm, even if the winds blow again tonight.  Caleta Lobos is spectacular.  One complaint here though (and our books mention it) is the bugs.  They are not really biting bugs but they do drive you buggy by landing on you every where you can imagine.  Masses of tiny little no-see-ums and a few bees.  We anchored in 25 feet of water and it was so clear you could clearly see the anchor with a scuba mask. In fact, when the winds died off and the water surface became glassy you could see the anchor from the bow of our boat. We went for a hike soon after anchoring and had a nice walk and scramble up a hill.  This was followed by Kathy taking a kayak ride and then the family swimming in the water (about 74 degrees).  This was what we came here for!  A neighbor boat said the anchorage is good for those great nighttime winds.  The winds did blow again overnight, at just over 20 knots, but it was smooth water and allowed for some sleep.  Still, with two boats nearby, as well as each side of the bay, there is worry and some issues sleeping.

Caleta Lobos anchorage in the bay (from Kathy's kayak tour)
Hiking up the ridge
scrambling up the slope
beautiful clear water, mv Adagio anchored out there!
a lone fish swimming out there.  See if you can find it:  black and orange
fisherman netting some fish.  Awesome to watch them at work right near us
Here they are bringing in the fish, getting them out of the nets into a bin
Another drop for these fellows.  This time looking out of the bay and toward the north
The winds have disappeared leaving us with glassy smooth water.
mv Adagio, cactus and beautiful water
At the point and looking at shells picked apart from all the sea birds
The cactus are very interesting.  There are many
different varieties to be found here.

More cactus and the spectacular blue waters of the bay.

A shell find!

a photo of Adagio in the anchorage from Kathy kayaking along the shoreline
Reef fish seen from the kayak in the beautiful clear water

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 17, 2015 - La Paz

La Paz is a nice town and a great stop for provisioning.  It does not have the small town feel of La Cruz though.  But then again, more provisioning is possible here and lots of good bicycle riding.  We left our bikes locked up at Marina de La Paz so we did not have to take them back and forth via dinghy to our anchored boat each day.  This made it so that almost every day we went in for a bike ride, to eat, or to provision.  The town has paved streets so easy riding here. We put a lot of miles on the bikes, and the kids got to ride up and down curbs, over potholes, gaps in the sidewalks, and more.  it was fun.

We ended up with some boat insurance problems so we spent an extra week here with phone and internet so we could resolve them.  Anyway, we were getting a bit antsy and ready for new adventures especially after our stop at Puerto Balandra and the wonderful water and beach there.  We were able to go to the Magote side of La Paz to the beach and relax and play one afternoon.  We could have spent more afternoons over on the beach but we always seemed to go to town to find things or bike ride.  The dinghy dock tie up is only $15 pesos a day (about $1 US) so that was really nice and cheap.  When you pay the fee you are able to leave your garbage, fill up water bottles, dump used oil, etc.  We were also able to leave our bikes there.   It is a crowded little dock with all the boats out at anchor.  There is a restaurant and the Club Cruceros (the Cruisers Club) building right there.  Speaking of Club Cruceros, all I can say is WOW.  The book trade collection is incredible and the movies to borrow as well.  There must be more than 1000 movies there.  What an awesome benefit.  We arrived just in time for the 10th annual Bayfest, which is three days of events and lectures on everything around the bay.  Steve and/or I attended lectures on; hurricane preparation, birds of the sea, and Cruising the sea of Cortez.

Steve learned a little tip about bug bites at one of the seminars.  If you squeeze a little lime juice on the bite the itching goes away.  Kathy tried this on several bites and it worked.  Cindy has also verified this.  We have noticed that limes are everywhere in Mexico, but lemons are almost impossible to find.

We've experienced quite a few cruiser’s nets now in the various ports we have visited, and each one has its own flavor.  This one is a bit different in that you do not announce your boat name each morning, so without listening to arrivals and departures from the bay, you may not know who is here.  There are 4 marina’s and a large anchoring area so there are a lot of cruising boats here.  

Writing about anchoring brings up our experiences with that in the bay.  We started near Marina Cortez in a spot where we felt we got a good hook.  The next day we spent most of the day on shore and came back to find out we are only about 30 feet from the floating breakwater. We were about 100 feet away when we went to shore.  Steve starts the motors and begins backing up to simulate how close we might end up if the wind really kicked up.  Well, we never did stop moving toward the dock so had to stop our simulation and pull our anchor to re-anchor.  We decided to leave this location and head across to the magote area that has a shallow sand shelf between us and it.  There are some paths through but you need to know where they are.  As we are moving slowly through, a water taxi waves at us that is too shallow.  We were at about 5ft at that point below our keel, which was OK, most of the anchorage is less than 15' deep.  We ended up backing up and getting through a bit further down and to an open spot between several sailboats at anchor.  There were sail boats all around so we felt good with the location; depth would not be an issue.  Winds had come and gone during the day and everything SEEMED ok.  A windy night and some sleeplessness while we used our laser range finder to verify distances between us and our neighboring boats.  All seemed fine.  After getting up at 7:15 (daylight) we see that we are possibly 15 feet away from a sail vessel.  During the night we were never closer than 140'.  We quickly start the engines and pull forward and even pull in some anchor chain.  We were still not comfortable, this one vessel was very close and appeared to be using anchor rope, not chain.  We don't know how much line he had out.  The person never came out of his vessel even after we started our engines with our exhausts just 15 feet from his starboard side.  He must be a sound sleeper.  The ocean current coming in and draining from the bay is more than several knots and interacts with the winds in strange ways.  At times all of the boats are pointing in different directions, drifting around on different amounts of scope of line/chain out.  At times it looked crazy with boats pointed all different directions, moving about in random motions, while the wind is blowing 25 knots.  Most of the time with that kind of wind boats all point the same direction and move in the same basic patterns.  We studied our GPS screen and determined that our anchor was exactly where we planted it.  This other boat must have 200' of rope out, in 12 feet of water, in order for him to move so far and almost touch our boat.  When we anchored he was almost 300' away.  So in this windy morning, we decide to make another move.  It is blowing 20 knots on the low end so we decide to head to the front of the pack of vessels or basically way out there!

The entire time in La Paz it seemed we saw 15-25 knots on a daily basis with strong currents in a different direction than the wind.  We must say though that even though we saw the winds, we did not deploy our anchor stabilizers and there was little to no rocking or hobby horsing of the boat.

Now, this is a city and a city that likes to stay up late.  Some nights there was a night club running until 4am in the morning, with blaring music and a loud DJ.  We were never in town to see the nightlife and young people having a ton of fun, we just listened and wished for more quiet from our boat at night.  Between wind, water slapping from the current, and the music there we did not encounter many sound nights of sleep.

Does it sound like I am complaining?  Well, I guess that would be a yes and a no.  We do enjoy quiet completely noiseless nights as Steve and I both sleep lightly.  So although we enjoy parts of La Paz, the quiet tranquility of anchorages without all the activity are our preference.  

Steve Jobs' $120 million boat, the large one in the center.
His widow inherited it after his death.
Boats still tipped from the hurricane last fall
This boat has new owners, the threesome perched on the back railing.
Zappa napping
At anchor in La Paz bay
At the beach at the magote side
Jumping off the dinghy.  
Heron with a fish in his mouth
The heron
One of the many statues on the malecon
We keep seeing workout equipment along the malecon.  Here Cindy and Kevin working!
another great sculpture
and yet another

big old whale skeleton at the museum entrance
ice cream from El Fuente
Dinner and jumping at Stella restaurant.  
more jumping and bouncing
Kids across the street and Steve and I having an IPA beer at Harker Boards
beautiful church
We are at the Shack where boaters meet, eat, drink, and sign the wall
Cindy and Kevin adding us to the wall of fame!
at another workout playground

Riding up one of the streets. Paved streets here rather than cobblestone
Another ice cream shop and stop
Riding the beautiful malecon
Kathy, Cindy and Kevin go help a stranded boater and give him a tow
more riding the malecon
and more riding
and more workout stops
and more tipped boats from the hurricane
Steve gets a flat, again.  Could not fix this one so he had to walk it back a couple miles
and more workout playgrounds
an old wooden bridge at the malecon with Kevin riding it
we kept our bikes on shore right here at the fence, Steve fixing the flat with a new tube
These little birds hanging out on the handlebars of bikes were really cute
Steve, Cindy and Kevin at a monument.
This bird was seen daily on this fishing boat.  Relaxing in the shade under the awning

Kevin, with a mohawk and after eating ice cream
more fun with Zappa, he loves hot clothing just out of the dryer
Kathy went for a kayak in the magote 

A selfie from my kayak ride 
Steve, Cindy, and Kevin 
An awesome delivery vehicle.
Large statue of Jacque Cousteau
on the malecon.